Thursday, May 25, 2017

All the Feels

Today (Wednesday, May 24) brings up a lot of emotions for me (seems to be the trend lately!) and this is the way that I've learned how to process them all.

  • Last day with JD and others at Parsons
Today is my last day of my fifth year of teaching. Today is also the last day of several of my coworkers in our building. We have several people leaving our school because they have either accepted a different job within the district, or for some, out of the district. 
One of those people is our principal. I have been SO lucky to work under such an amazing leader and boss, who has become a good friend. I'll never forget my interview at his school (it was so hot & I was in a pants suit!) and leaving there thinking about how bad I wanted that position. When he called me to offer me the position, I'll always remember the excitement I felt! I was like a kid on Christmas morning! I couldn't wait to start in my first classroom as a kindergarten teacher. I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to begin my career under his leadership. He has taught me so much about myself as an educator and as a person. I appreciate his constructive criticism, advice, humor, guidance, compassion, understanding, support and friendship over the last five years. Our building will absolutely never be the same without him and his strong personality, but I'm happy to see him moving on and up to something he's passionate about - helping others and supporting teachers.
There are several other people moving on from our building, some who have become good friends as well. I really hope we're able to keep in touch despite our busy schedules and growing families. Next school year is going to be very strange walking into our school without these guys, and seeing so many new faces. I don't do well with change sometimes and it's definitely going to be an adjustment. 

  • 35 weeks
Today I would have been 35 weeks pregnant with the twins (can you imagine how huge I'd be?!). I remember counting ahead when I was pregnant to figure out if/when I'd take some time off at the end of the school year to relax before the babies were born. 35 weeks is the national average for twin delivery, so I feel like if I was still pregnant, they really would have been coming any day. Now is when they were supposed to be born, not three months ago. I was supposed to spend my summer juggling nursing two newborn little boys and entertaining a toddler, but that's never going to happen. I really try not to dwell on moments like this, but over the next few weeks - when they should have been making their arrival - they're going to be on my mind A LOT. 

  • IVF/Retrieval
Instead of preparing for the birth of our boys, we're now preparing for another pregnancy. It feels like we're back at square one, starting all over again. It's exciting and scary all at the same time. Tomorrow morning we'll go in to have all of my follicles removed and fertilized for the next few days under the careful watch of our fertility clinic. We are so lucky to have them fairly local and I cannot thank them enough for helping us have our beautiful children. It sucks to have to start all over again, but the way things are going, we'll hopefully have some exciting news to share this summer. 
I know I've written about it before, but the idea of being pregnant again brings up mixed emotions. Of course we'd be very excited to add to our family, but there's always going to be doubt in my mind that I'll be able to carry the baby full term again. Thankfully I have an amazing team of high-risk doctors who better know I'll be calling them for everything this time around! I know I'll be in good hands and closely monitored, but it still makes me nervous that we could have a similar outcome.
But right now I need to focus on "the now" and not stress about things I cannot control, which is very hard for me to do, but I'm trying. I'm glad to have the summer off work now to help me relax. :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Infertility Journey: Round Three, Part Two

Click here for Part One

Wednesday, April 12
I received my IVF calendar/schedule and meds list in the mail yesterday. It's slowly starting to feel more real! I also have two appointments scheduled already over the next few weeks. Next week, Tim and I both have to go in for blood work and I'm also getting an ultrasound. Then about a month from now, I have my baseline scan and blood work scheduled.
According to the schedule, it looks like transfer and retrieval are going to be around the end of the school year and into Memorial Day weekend. I might have to miss the last day or two of school, but I'm okay with that. I just need to find a sub who'll cover for me on the days I'll have scans.
I'm still currently waiting to get my second period, but it should be here any day now.

Wednesday, April 19
Finally, my second period started a few days ago on Sunday and I began taking my birth control on Monday. Tim and I had to get initial blood work done today (they had to stick me three times & dig around, ugh!) and they did a saline ultrasound on me to make sure everything looked okay down there after the miscarriage. Thankfully, everything looked great and we are on track to being IVF on May 12! On that day, I'll have my baseline scan and labs to begin the IVF process. Between now and then, I'll make sure that I get all of my meds through the mail-order fertility pharmacy and continue the birth control until May 9.

Friday, April 21
I'm getting a bit nervous about being pregnant again. I'm so worried that every little thing I feel is going to make me think something is wrong. I keep telling Tim that if I get pregnant this summer, I'm just going to lay around all summer and not strain myself at all. I'm worried that my cervix won't hold up and that being checked every two weeks won't be often enough. Just under two weeks went by between the last time I was checked and when the boys were unexpectedly born. I'm worried about going back to work if/when I get pregnant, especially in the heat - thank goodness I have that room air conditioner!
Even with all of these worries, I am SO excited to get pregnant again. I can't wait to have more kids! I'm really, really hopeful that it's going to work on the first try. I hope that my body responds appropriately to all of the hormones and medications (wow, that med list is LONG!), that I don't get too over-stimulated, and that we have several embryos that survive. If we do have more than one, we plan on freezing the extras to implant at a later date to have more children through a frozen transfer cycle.
Oh, one of my other worries, of course, is getting pregnant with twins. Now I'm pretty sure everyone on the staff knows that we are planning on only transferring and implanting ONE embryo, but I still have that fear that it'll split into identical twins - there's no way to control that. I don't know what I'd do if I found out it was twins again - I'd be terrified! Of course, we'd deal with it, and I really wouldn't want to move my entire pregnancy, but I could never go the route of 'selective reduction'. So right now, I'm really hoping that it works on the first try and we get pregnant with ONE little bean this time around. :)

Monday, May 1
We're officially in IVF month. In February, when we first met with the clinic, May seemed so far away, but here we are less than two weeks away from my baseline scan. Over the last week or so, I've been back and forth with the fertility pharmacy and the fertility clinic making sure that the correct meds are ordered and covered by insurance. IVF has a lot more medications than my IUIs, so making phone calls without my list is impossible. Unfortunately, one of my meds, Lupron, isn't covered by my insurance. I called the fertility clinic this afternoon to see if there's a replacement drug available, because I'm not paying $649 out of pocket for it! In the meantime, the fertility pharmacy is going to mail me all of the meds that have been approved by insurance this week. Hopefully this will help narrow down what's left. Thank goodness they ship quickly in case we need something last minute - I feel like next Friday is going to be here before we know it.

Right now the plan is to continue birth control until May 9th, then I should start my period. On May 12th I'll go in for my baseline scan (ultrasound to check that I don't have any cysts or anything that'll prevent us from moving forward) and labs (to make sure my hormone levels are in check). Then, they'll tell me exactly which medications I'll be taking, how much, and when to begin, to stimulate follicle growth. The nice part about going through the IVF process is that we can harvest eggs from both ovaries this time (unlike IUI where eggs on my right side were useless because I don't have a fallopian tube there), so hopefully we'll get a lot!

Thursday, May 4
I'm getting stressed out already, and I don't like it! I've been playing phone tag with my fertility clinic over the last four days trying to figure out if I have the right medications. They've been returning my afternoon calls the following morning....while I'm working.

I got a shipment of meds yesterday in the mail, and two of them were not on my original list of meds that I'd be getting. It's worrying me that I just paid $80 for these two (plus $105 for others) and they aren't even what I need. I'm sure there's no return policy!

Monday, May 8
Thankfully I was able to get in contact with someone at my clinic on Friday and discovered that the two meds that weren't listed were basically just generic brands for medications I needed, so we're good! Now the issue is that one of my hormone levels on my blood work from April was a bit high. This means I'm at a higher risk for hyper-stimulating. If this happened, then I'd have to trigger with a specific shot, one that's not covered by insurance and is $649. It also means that if I did hyper-stimulate, they may follow through with the retrieval of eggs, but may need to freeze any embryos to implant them the next cycle, to allow my body to recover from the over stimulation.

All of these unknown factors are making me a bit nervous, but I'm definitely not as stressed about everything as I felt on Thursday of last week. Tomorrow is my last day of birth control, then I'm expecting to get my period on Wednesday/Thursday and I'll be going in to get my baseline scan and labs done on Friday. This is also when I'll be learning all about what medications I'll begin taking and injecting. It's getting close....

Friday, May 12
I'm so happy to not be feeling stressed out right now!! I had my baseline scan and labs this morning and everything looked great on my scan. They even were able to get my vein in one poke (with some maneuvering), so I'd call it a success. One of the nurses was able to answer all of my questions in the office, and then they told me they'd call me this afternoon to tell me my instructions based on my lab results.
Well, just got my call from the clinic and I'll only be doing two shots per day - how easy is that?! I'll also be taking an oral antibiotic (Tim, too) for ten days while preparing for retrieval. So, starting tonight, I'll be doing Gonal-F and Menopur injections each evening, and I'll be going back on Wednesday (today's Friday) to see how I'm progressing. Thanks to one of my favorite techs, she's going to scan me at 7:15am so that I can get my blood work and get back to work as soon as possible.
The tricky part about all of this is that I'll have to be seen a lot by my fertility clinic so they can monitor my follicles and ovaries very carefully to watch for hyper-stimulation, so that means lots of trips to Springfield which is 45 minutes one-way, and also some time from work. Thankfully I have amazing and very understanding co-workers who are willing to step in and help watch my class while I have to be out so much.

Wednesday, May 17
Up bright and early (as usual) to get to Springfield and back this morning without missing too much work. Of course I had a dream last night that I ended up taking a school bus there instead of driving, and we got lost out in the middle of no where. By the time we got to Springfield, I learned that their clinic had moved to Decatur, actually in the office of my school building (convenient, huh?!). Can you tell I'm stressed about being late to work?! I feel bad, but appreciate SO much, that people are giving up their plan times to watch my kids so that I don't have to get a random sub for an hour.

Anyway, I'll be leaving in less than an hour to head to Springfield. I'm hoping to be the first one there so I can get in and out quickly. They'll be doing an internal ultrasound to look at my ovaries and count & measure the follicles that are growing inside. I'm so excited to be able to consider BOTH sides this time around, something we've never been able to do before. Then I'll be getting blood work done - they usually struggle to find a vein - to check/monitor my hormone levels. I'm guessing, just like on Friday, that they'll meet with the doctor after lunch and call me this afternoon to update me on my information and any changes I'll have to make.

Good news, everything seems to progressing as it should! :) I was indeed the first one there and had my scan quickly. I had 18 follicles, 8 on one side and 10 on the other. They were pleased to see that I didn't have any giant ones, so I'm guessing that means I'm not hyper-stimulating...yet. For some reason they always struggle to take my blood. It took three people and three pokes to finally get a vein. They better get it together because I'm going to be back a lot over the next few weeks!
One of the nurses called this afternoon and told me to continue both of my shots (Gonal-F & Menopur), keeping the dosage the same, and to return on Friday morning. That will be one week into the shots, and I'm curious to see how much will change in two days. I'm already going on day six tonight. This retrieval is going to be here before too long!

Friday, May 19
I had another scan with labs this morning. Thankfully they are so flexible and didn't even care that I showed up a half hour before my scheduled time so I could get back to work. AND, they even got my vein on the first poke!
I had three measurable follicles on each side today. This surprised me, especially since I thought I had 18 just two days ago. But I tried not to stress too much about it - we only need ONE.
After speaking with one of the nurses this afternoon, things seem to be progressing well. I'm now adding another injection to my nightly routine - Cetrotide. It's supposed to help the eggs mature, but keep me from ovulating too soon. I'll be going back to the fertility clinic on Sunday morning for my next check.
Retrieval is coming up quick. Tonight was my 8th night of injections. Let's hope that the six eggs that are growing continue to grow and mature like they're supposed to, and maybe a couple more will sprout up by Sunday. The more eggs they retrieve, the greater chance we have of a good quality egg fertilizing and developing before they transfer it back into my uterus.

Sunday, May 21
More labs and another ultrasound this morning. It was packed!! I didn't think it would be so busy on a Sunday, but I think every woman going through IVF was there this morning. Thankfully I didn't have to rush in and out to get back to work because they were a bit slow-moving because they were so busy.
Today I had 10 measurable follicles. :) Two of them are pretty big already and the rest vary in size. They want me to continue my three injections tonight and come back tomorrow morning for another scan and labs. Right now, it looks like I'll be having my retrieval on Wednesday (last day of school). And, good news, it looks like I won't have to pay $649 for a Lupron trigger shot!!! So far my hormone levels have been normal and I'm not hyper-stimulating, so I can trigger with Ovidrel which I already have in my fridge!
I'm getting excited for my retrieval because I'm anxious to see how many follicles they can harvest. I hope we have good quality embryos, but I just have to keep reminding myself that we just only need one....and hope that it takes when they put it back in.

Tuesday, May 23
I'm am completely over driving back and forth to Springfield and getting poked a million times, but we're having good results, so I really shouldn't/can't complain. Yesterday, my follicles were similar in size to Sunday, so they wanted me to do my three shots again last night and come back today to see if they got any bigger - they sure did! The nurse who did my ultrasound, Holly (my favorite!), told me that I looked great and was definitely ready for retrieval after today's scan. They were able to get my blood after one poke today (took FOUR yesterday), so I took today's appointment as a definite win...especially because they told me that I have about 15 follicles!! Of course not all of them are mature enough, so they're guessing they'll be able to retrieve about 12 good ones. I can't wait! I really hope things go well. :)
So, I'm all set for retrieval on Thursday. I have to do two trigger shots tonight (the ones I already have, NOT the $649 one - woo hoo!) and then go in tomorrow morning to make sure my hormones are reacting appropriately to the trigger shot. Then Tim and I will go in on Thursday morning for the retrieval. After they take out my eggs, Tim will do his part and then they'll try to fertilize all of the mature eggs. From there, we wait 3-5 days to see which one(s) develop properly into embryos and they'll put one back in when it's ready. If we do have any left over good quality embryos, Tim and I plan to freeze them to transfer (one at a time) at a later date.
I am getting really excited to see how this all pans out over the next few weeks! This whole process has definitely been more involved than an IUI, but it really hasn't been as tough as I expected it to be...so far. The injections have been manageable (I've done 26 so far, plus the two triggers tonight); I'm so thankful that I haven't over-stimulated; and I'm also so thankful that I have been responding to the injections appropriately.
And a HUGE shout-out to my work family for helping cover my kiddos over the last two weeks when I've had to come a little late on some days. I really, really appreciate you understanding that I need to go through this to help grow our little family.


From here I'll begin recording "part three" and will hopefully share it if/when we get some good news. :)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

I debated for a long time on whether I'd participate in the "mother's day photo" trend going around on Facebook. Lots of mommies have been sharing a picture of when they were pregnant, when their child(ren) were first born, and a picture of their child(ren) now. I have loved looking at everyone's posts, but I didn't know if I could bring myself to share mine.

Today, unlike any other day, the boys have been on my mind....but today, more so than others. Today, I should have been preparing for the upcoming birth of our two baby boys that would most likely have been making their entrance very soon. Instead, I remember holding their teeny-tiny little bodies in the middle of the night at the hospital.

I'm full of many mixed emotions today and I really don't know how to word all of it. I'm really trying to keep the memory of our twin boys positive as much as possible. I don't want to always be sad when I think of them. Yes, it's hard to think about "what could have been", but I can't dwell on it. I just remember their sweet faces and cherish the few photos we have. So tonight, I am going to share with you a photo that I wasn't sure I'd ever share with anyone other than a few select people. But I am proud to be the mommy of three children this year, even if two of them are our angel babies.

Here's a picture of me one week before giving birth to Anna, I was 38 weeks pregnant here. Then, one week later, she was born! Finally, the picture on the right is from today, at 2 3/4 years old. :)
Bottom left is the last picture I have of my baby bump with the twins (in my bathing suit before taking Anna to swim lessons). I was 19+1 weeks. Just three short days later, I gave birth to the boys. And the final picture is now, how I'll always keep the memory of these little guys with me. :)


Our first born! How is she so big already?!


Our twin baby boys, born about two hours apart. I could not believe how different they looked! Baby B is on the left. He had a round face with a little button nose, looking very much like Anna does now. Baby A is on the right, with a long, narrow face and a longer, skinnier nose than his brother - looking a lot like Daddy. I don't have any pictures of their faces, but these ultrasound photos were taken less than two weeks before they were born and are very accurate. 

No Mother's Day (or any holiday, really) will ever be the same after this year. I'll always be missing two of our children, but hope that we can add some more cute little ones to the family one day.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Remembering Our Children

(Un)Fortunately, losing our children has brought my sister-in-law, Katrina, and I a lot closer over the last few months. There's no pain like it, and someone who's never lost a child will never know the feeling. Even with our stories being so different, we've been able to connect through our heartache.

Katrina lost her daughter, our niece, Alayna in September 2016 when she passed away in her sleep without an explanation. I had no idea what to think, how to feel, or what to say to Katrina to even begin to understand how she was feeling or what she was going through. In fear of saying the wrong thing or bringing up sad emotions, I tried to give her space, but really, that was one of the worst things I could have done.

When the boys were born in February, Katrina and I started talking a lot more. We could grieve together. I could tell her how I was feeling without being embarrassed because she had been there. We had a lot of good conversations and she really helped me deal with the mess of emotions running through my head!

As we were talking, the topic of tattoos came up. We both expressed how we've always wanted one, but never had a "good enough" reason to get one. Neither of us thought this would be our reason, but that's just the way life works out sometimes.

I've been so worried over the last month that one day I'm going to forget about my babies. I know we only had them for such a short, short time, but I still carried them and they left a HUGE impression on my heart! I don't ever want to forget about our two sons. When I first saw their tiny little footprints in the hospital, I thought about getting them as a tattoo so that they'd always be with me. I didn't think I'd ever do it, but it hung in the back of my mind.

Then Katrina and I started talking about getting tattoos for our children, and the idea started becoming a reality. For the last almost two months, we've been planning this weekend. We planned to get tattoos together to remember the sweet babies/child we lost. Then, we'd walk together, with our families, to support Annie's Hope which is an amazing organization that helped Katrina's family through their grief after Alayna died.

I felt like this would be a nice thing to do together to honor our children. So....we did!

On Friday afternoon, Katrina and I went to a local tattoo shop in her neighborhood and retold the stories of our babies to the cool piercing guy while we waited for our artist to get ready. Everyone in the shop was super nice, and we were both super nervous! Our artist, Toph, was very considerate of our wants, and was very patient with me when I was picky about my placement. Apparently my tattoos are technically upside down, but it's what I had been picturing in my mind for the last two months, and he was so sweet, and did it for me. :)


I was so worried that it was going to look terrible and that I was going to be stuck with it for the rest of my life! I am VERY pleased to say that I LOVE the way my sweet babies' feet turned out and I am so proud to carry them with me forever.


Baby A is on my right wrist and Baby B is on my left wrist. I chose these places specifically because that's the side I held them on when I held them together in the hospital.
The artist did enlarge them just a tiny bit so he could add a little more detail, but they are very close to true size and are almost identical to the tiny little prints we brought home from the hospital. They're absolutely perfect!

Katrina got a mother-daughter tattoo to honor and remember Alayna. She went back and forth for a long time on the style and placement, but I think she picked the most adorable and sweet tattoo! I absolutely love the way it turned out, right down to the bow that Alayna would always wear!!

It was such a special way for us to work through the grief and heartache we've been feeling, and will continue to feel. But now we have these beautiful, special tattoos to always remember that we are mothers to these children, too, even if they're not with us anymore.


Saturday morning, even through the pouring rain, we attended the Walk for Hope. It was full of positive, uplifting people there to support one another going through grief of a loved one. The kids loved walking through the rain and giant puddles - Anna had so much fun! This is one weekend I'll never forget, and look forward to many more walks to remember Alayna.

I wish this wasn't so blurry, but it was really hard taking pictures in the rain with a wet phone! We did a balloon release before the walk and this is Anna carrying Alayna's balloon :)

Nothing better than running & jumping through the puddles!

After!

Love this because you can see the rose on the back of her shirt & her matching rose bow made by Katrina :)

Family selfie...sort of....in our Team Alayna shirts

All of Team Alayna, smiling big despite the rain!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our Infertility Journey: Round Three, Part One

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. To raise awareness, I'm going to begin sharing our third fertility journey. 

(If you'd like to read our previous two fertility journeys, scroll down under the "What I write about" section and click on the word "infertility" and you'll actually want to read from the bottom-up to go in order.)

This time around is going to be much different than years past, because the idea of getting pregnant after a loss is extremely terrifying and so exciting at the same time. When I type these blogs, I keep them in a "journal style" to capture my true feelings and thoughts for that day, along with the progress of our fertility treatments. With my past two pregnancies, I've shared all of the posts after knowing I was already pregnant. This time around, I haven't decided how much I want to share. More than ever, I feel like every pregnancy and every life should be celebrated, no matter how long. That being said, it makes me nervous to share every detail while we're going through it. So, I'll be sharing information as I'm comfortable this time around, and I'm not sure what that's going to look like yet. 

I started this blog post just 12 days after we lost our boys because I was trying to look to the future and find something positive and hopeful to focus on. I have no idea where this third journey is going to take us. I feel like it's the scariest one so far: 


February 17
After the miscarriage of our twin boys at 19 weeks and 4 days, it was never a question in my mind or Tim's mind about whether or not we'd try again. We could not have this tragedy stop our family from growing like we always wanted it to. We both agreed that as soon as my body was ready, and our emotions were ready, that we'd start trying again.

I'm very happy to say that the wheels are already in motion on expanding our family again. It gives me hope. It gives me something to look forward to. Surprisingly, it makes me excited to go back again because I believe it's possible for me to get pregnant again and I'm having really good feelings about it all right now. 

Yesterday, I was contacted by the fertility clinic letting me know that they heard about what happened from MFM and they asked if we were interested in coming back - of course I said yes! So we set up a follow-up meeting with the fertility doctor for next Wednesday afternoon. Tim and I talked about it last night and we're both looking forward to it. As of right now, our plan/ideas are to go through with another IUI (I'd like to start right off with injections, where we left off last time), and not to do the actual procedure unless there is ONE mature follicle on the correct side. 

When I got pregnant with the boys, there were two mature follicles when I went in for the IUI. One was a little smaller than the other, so I really didn't think it would take, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was a possibility. This time around, I only want to go forward with one follicle at a time. We will never know why we lost our boys, but I don't think my body can handle twins again. Maybe it was the stress of two babies on my "sick" body, maybe it was just that my cervix gave out because of the added weight/pressure of two growing boys - who knows...we never will. But it makes me nervous to go through with another twin pregnancy because everything about Anna's "singleton" pregnancy was perfect and easy. I know my body can handle one baby, so that's the route that I'd personally feel comfortable with.

Our fertility doctor has been very understanding and respectful of our wants/feelings in the past, so I hope that he's open to hear what we have to say and willing to work with us again. :)


February 22
We met with our fertility doctor this afternoon and it went really well. He wants us to wait until I've had two periods before trying again. Originally, I wanted to pick up where we left off (injections & IUI), but now I'm torn...of course.
When I explained to the Dr. that I wanted to try IUI again he completely understood. But when I told him that I was against going through with the IUI if I have more than one mature follicle, he started talking about doing IVF instead. There are a lot more controlled components when it comes to IVF, including the number of fertilized eggs (embryos) that would be put back in my uterus. He feels that we'd be very successful with IVF, which we had discussed in the fall, because it is so controlled and I don't have too many issues beyond the one Fallopian tube. Thankfully we still have time to decide what we want to do. It was really nice discussing our options today because this makes me hopeful and gives me something to look forward to.

I'm torn because we've been successful with IUI, but it could take some time to get the right circumstances for it to work again. With IVF, our time could be shorter, but the process is a bit more intense. As of right now, we're scheduled to do IVF in May, but the more I thought about it after we left, that is probably one of the last months I'd pick to do that because of it being the last month of the school year. So, when I get my first period, they'd like to me to call them and I think I'm going to ask them to push the IVF back to June or July, so I will be less stressed and more available for appointments. Now we have to decide if we want to try an IUI in April and/or May, or just go straight to IVF this time. Again, I'm glad we have time to think about it because its a lot to consider, but I'm so glad we have something to look forward to in the next few months.


March 14
I started spotting last night, finally (5 weeks and one day later)!! I've never wanted a period so bad in my life! I am so ready to get the ball rolling on fertility treatments again, As of right now, after milling our options over in my head several times over the last few weeks, I think I want to go straight to IVF. I am so anxious to get pregnant again because the need to grow our family is so strong. I feel like IVF will get us there the quickest, hopefully. It all depends on my cycles and what my body decides to do that will determine the timing. If it happens in May, great. If we have to wait til June,that's fine, too. I just hope that my spotting turns into a full period today! As long as it does, I'll be calling the fertility clinic to let them know and see what our next steps are.


March 27
So far so good, my body had a regular period for a few days and I'm probably about 2-3 weeks out from my next one.


April 6
It's been two months, yesterday, since the boys were born. According to my fertility tracker app, my period should be starting next week. That would be nice because I have next week off for spring break, so if I have to have any appointments at the fertility clinic, my schedule is wide open. This will be my second period, meaning we'd get the ball rolling on IVF, starting with birth control (weird, right?!) which is ready and waiting with all of my other meds.
IVF is starting to feel within grasp now and it's making me a little nervous when I think about the intensity of everything - lots of shots and new meds, possible over-stimulation, retrieval, transfer, etc... It makes me nervous that the process is going to be stressful and emotional, but I have to keep my eye on the end goal which is expanding our family. I hope that when I do get my period and the clinic checks my body, everything looks good to begin in May.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Clinic Appointment Today

This picture basically sums up my appointment today! 

I was lucky enough to have my appointment moved up a couple weeks to today during my spring break so I didn't have to miss a day of work. It was wonderful because it was not a CF clinic day, meaning there weren't several other CF patients waiting and sharing germs in the lobby! It also meant that I got in right away! And, as a bonus, since things were going so smoothly, I decided to get in my chest x-ray today and that lady was super fast with it!

I'm currently nearing the end of my two-week Cipro cycle, but still not feeling 100% lung-wise yet. I'd say, I'm more like 85-90%. I'm still having a bit extra mucus than normal, and some at night which is not normal for me, so I don't feel like I'm quite ready to be done yet with the antibiotic. This is the first time I've ever asked about extending my antibiotic cycle, but I feel a few more days (up to a week) might be just what I need. The nurse practitioner agreed, even though my numbers looked good today. I appreciate that she respects what I have to say and trusts how I feel. The one good thing about my mail-order Cipro issues I had, is that now I have a ton extra on hand, so extending my meds another week isn't going to be an issue. I'm also going to order Cayston as soon as I can and start it a little bit earlier than scheduled.

One thing we did discuss today though, is that my lungs and pseudomonas (bacteria my lungs culture) are slowly becoming resistant to Cipro. I used to have a "moderate" resistance to Cipro, but according to my last culture in January, I'm now "intermediately" resistant. Unfortunately, Cipro is the only oral antibiotic that fights pseudomonas. Once I become completely resistant, that I'm left with IV antibiotics as my weapon against infections. I wasn't too happy to hear this, but I think (hope) I still have lots of time before I need to really consider that. Thankfully, I was able to make it almost seven months between needing Cipro, so hopefully I can make it another 7+ months before needing it again. The longer I can keep between cycles and the less often I need it, the slower I'll become completely resistant.

So, now for the numbers: My weight is stable at 132.7lbs. My lung function is up all around and closer to my baseline, at 85% today. Of course, I'm greedy and would like to see them closer to 90, but 85% is about right for what I'm feeling right now.

Today, I asked the RT to record me doing a PFT today. These are the tests that I do, at least three times, each clinic visit to determine my current lung function. For people without CF, "normal" lung function is between 80-100%, so technically I have "normal" lung function...just have to do lots of treatments to keep it that way. Anyway, I know CFers often put a lot of pressure on themselves during these tests because they tell us our next plan of action and overall health. Follow this link which will take you to my Colleen's Friends & Family facebook page where you can view the video. :)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Two Months Later

Right now I'm feeling How has it seriously been two months already? combined with Man, this really sucks!

This last month has honestly been harder than I expected, as I posted last week. I've had a lot of moments when I've wondered how far along I'd be with the boys (I rarely bring myself to count it out because that just makes it worse) and how huge I'd be (I can only imagine how bad I'd be waddling now, haha!). I think it's just slowly setting in more that we lost two of our children.

Then I think to myself - when the question comes up of "how many kids do you have?", what am I supposed to say?! If I say 'one', then I feel bad that I'm not counting them as my children because they are/were....but if I say 'three', then comes the explanation and people get awkward and don't know what to say....it's just tough.

That's one thing I've learned this last month especially, please don't feel awkward about my babies! I am so happy to have been able to carry, then see and hold my baby boys, even if it was just for a short time. I love that we were able to see their faces, although it makes me sad that I don't have a picture of them. They are our children and I like to talk about them sometimes. Its OKAY to talk about them and the pregnancy! Please, don't act like they never existed, because they sure were loved by a lot of people! Sure, talking about them sometimes might make me sad, but I've learned that it's okay to feel sad sometimes; I just can't let the sadness consume me -- which I think I've done pretty good about most days. I think about those little guys every single day, and I can't imagine that's going to change, ever. They'll always be our little Butter & Jelly. <3 p="">

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Process of Getting Cipro

Thursday: I texted my doctor to let her know I was feeling off. I wasn't quite sure if it was allergies or an infection coming on. The plan was to have her call in a script for Cipro so I could have it on hand for the weekend in case I started feeling worse.

Friday: While at work, I felt like crap! My cough was changing and my sinuses were clogged. I decided I should run by Walgreens and grab the Cipro and begin taking it that evening. Unfortunately, when I got there, they said my doctor never called it in....ugh! So I got in touch with my doctor and she resubmitted the order. I called Walgreens later that evening to pick it up (even if I could just get a partial), but they said my insurance was putting it through mail order - seriously?! Who gets antibiotics through the mail?! How is that convenient at all???
So I asked the pharmacist if there was any way I could just get some pills to last me over the weekend, hoping my Cipro would come via snail-mail Monday. She was able to sell me SIX pills for $24! I had to take them because I knew letting this infection brew over the weekend without the extra antibiotics wasn't going to help.

Saturday: I took my second and third dose on Saturday. My cough was in the cough-constantly-with-no-mucus-production stage and it sucked!

Sunday: Took two more doses today.

Monday: Took my last dose Monday morning before work hoping there would be a package on my door when I arrived home with the rest of my Cipro.....of course there wasn't. This meant that I missed Monday evening and Tuesday morning's dose.

Tuesday: Lots of rattling in my chest, but it's tight and very hard to have a productive cough unless I practically choke/gag. Thankfully when I got home, the full dose of my Cipro was in my mailbox. I'll be starting back on it this evening.


**Moral of the story, MAIL ORDER PHARMACY SUCKS! It's NOT convenient to get a dose of antibiotics in the mail!!!! "Normal people" don't go to the doctor for an ear infection, strep, etc and get their prescriptions four days later in the mail. I just don't understand why this decision was made and who made it - was it insurance? Was it the mail order pharmacy? I suppose I could call both and figure it out, but I'm not in the best mood about it right now and do not feeling like trying to figure it out. All I know is, at least I now have six extra pills (since I had to buy some) from this mailed dose, that next time I feel an infection coming on, I'll be sure to put it in my mail order VERY early!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Health & Great Strides

I haven't posted about my physical health in a while, so I figure I may as well update you. The good news is that I haven't been on antibiotics since mid-September, which means it's been 6 & 1/2 months!! Bad news (or...not so fun news) is that the streak ends now. Over the last few days, I've had a sore throat and stuffy nose. I was hoping it was possibly just allergies, but today the frequency and consistency of my cough changed which told me it was time to bring in the 'big guns' - aka: Cipro.

I tried being proactive and got in contact with my doctor yesterday in case my allergy symptoms changed and I needed to begin Cipro over the weekend when she's out of the office. Of course, that couldn't go as smoothly as planned....I didn't get to the pharmacy until this afternoon to pick it up (because I wanted to start tonight after having crappy lung day today) and they told me they had no record of it - grrr!! So I called and texted my doctor who was as equally frustrated, but she kindly sent in the script again. Now I'm finishing up my treatments and plan to call Walgreens when I'm done to make sure it has arrived and has been filled before I go to the pharmacy this time.

Weight-wise, I think I'm hanging around the same weight as before I got pregnant with the boys. I know after I had them, I lost a few pounds, but the way clothes are fitting recently, it seems I've gained it back. I do not own a scale because otherwise I'd obsess over my weight, so we'll just see at my next clinic appointment.


Finally, I wanted to share about my Great Strides team this year. Colleen's Friends & Family will be walking at two walk sites this year - DeKalb and Bloomington. Every year our friends and family join us to walk and show their support for all people with CF and the CF Foundation. I'd guess we've raised close to $10,000 over the last five-six years together. The CF Foundation puts 90 cents of every dollar donated towards educating families, new programs and research for new drugs. Just this week, the CF Foundation release information on a Phase 3 Vertex study drug combined with Kalydeco has had very positive results!! This is where your donations go!!! This is why donations (and awareness) are so important! They're actually going somewhere and accomplishing things!

It's so exciting to hear of new drugs coming down the pipeline to hopefully be available soon for more and more CF patients. Unfortunately, all of these wonderful new drugs are still NOT a cure! I still have to do all of my treatments and take the same amount of medications as I did before I began Kalydeco (plus the two K pills daily). But the Kalydeco has helped keep my lung function stable for three and a half years, and helped me get to and maintain a healthy weight.

Anyway, my friends and family and I will be participating in Great Strides this year to help raise money for the CFF and more clinical trials! We'd love for you to join us! If you're unable to walk with us, and would still like to donate, all information can be found using the links below. :)

DeKalb info: http://fightcf.cff.org/goto/dekalb17

Bloomington info: http://fightcf.cff.org/goto/bloomington17

*All donations are 100% tax-deductible and truly, EVERY DOLLAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Current Struggles

I know this blog has focused on our miscarriage a lot lately, but that's just our life right now. Some days are worse than others - some moments are worse than others. These are some things I've been struggling with lately, that maybe I didn't expect to, or have been affecting more than I thought they would:

Last week I attended a PLC (professional learning community) for school about the effects of childhood trauma on the brain. This is something we've been discussing and learning about as a school and district a lot this year to be better supporters in the classroom. Anyway, the presenter was talking about how much the brain develops so much even as a fetus, before a baby is born. She was saying how things like stress in the mother and/or her smoking/drinking while pregnant has a negative effect on the baby's brain and development that could impact them for the rest of their life. It just made me think about how I tried to provide the best prenatal care that I could for my boys, but I still lost them and how that's not fair! How come the mom that drinks and smokes during her pregnancy can have her baby, but I didn't get to have my two boys...after six months of fertility treatments!
I know that life isn't fair. And I know that's just how the world is, but it just sucked a little bit extra that day, in that moment. It's things like this that pop up every now and then, that makes me think of what could/should have been and makes this whole experience hard.

Another thing that's been bothering me lately is that our boys don't have names. When we were in the hospital, after they were born, several of the nurses/staff asked us if we had names picked out, and we didn't. We thought we had another 3-4 months to pick out their names, so we hadn't really settled on anything - we hadn't even had a ton of ideas yet. Sitting in the hospital, trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I just gave birth to my babies half way through my pregnancy, and that they were dead......the idea of naming them just didn't feel right. We didn't have names picked out. How could I sit and name them when I didn't even get a chance to know them?!
But now, I want to. I have thought about their little faces every single day for the last seven weeks. I have put different names to their faces in my head and I want them to have names. I want them to have identities, even though they'll never grow up in our family - they're still my babies. They're still our sons. I don't know how to go about it, and obviously that's only something Tim and I can decide, but that's what's on my mind recently.

Pregnancy. That's what's on my mind a lot! I, honestly, cannot wait to get pregnant again. And it's not to replace the babies we've lost, but to grow our family the way we've always wanted to. I've written an entire separate blog post about this topic, that I'll share at a later date (no, I'm not pregnant), but it is absolutely something that is on my mind all the time.

Announcements of pregnancy & newborns. It seems like my entire Facebook feed has been filled with positive pregnancy tests, announcements, bump pictures, birth announcements and monthly photos of adorable little newborn babies! And maybe it's because I'm just a little extra sensitive right now, but I just can't handle it!

"I'm supposed to be posting the bump pictures. 
Today is Wednesday, that was the day we took the pictures.
I wonder how giant my belly would be today?
How far along would I be now?
We're supposed to have three kids.
Are they scared to share their news in case something happens? 
Why did my boys get taken away?
I wonder what they would have looked like."


Dreams. I've been having a lot of dreams recently about having babies, being pregnant, etc. One night I had a dream where we had a 4-5 month old son and while I was playing with him & feeding him, I couldn't remember his name or if he had a name. Then he was in an exersaucer, leaned forward, fell out and bumped his head. When I picked him up, he started getting smaller and eventually looked like Baby A. So I started nursing him, and he was back to his normal size and was totally fine. (WEIRD!)
Last night I had a dream that I was pregnant again, with one baby. I couldn't bring myself to find out the gender, I wanted to be surprised. But then someone looked at the screen during the ultrasound and said, "wow, yes, I can tell", and immediately I knew we were having a boy. I got so excited because we would be able to use the clothes that we bought, and still have, for the twins.

I'm guessing this is just the way my mind is working through not having our sons, but my heart still wanting them. I will always wonder how our life would have been different. I am not posting these things to make people feel bad for me. I'm not looking for your opinions on baby names or when would be the best time for us to try to expand our family again. I'm using this as a form of processing for me, and sharing my experience with others so that they can learn from or have someone to connect with if they've gone through something similar. This is real life for me. I don't ever want to forget the two little boys that were supposed to join our family this summer, and this is the way I'm choosing to grieve and process.

Monday, March 6, 2017

One Month Later

Yesterday marked one month exactly since I miscarried our twin boys at 19+4 weeks. I'd have to say that Tim and I have been doing pretty well all things considering. Anna has been a fantastic distraction, and I don't know what/how I'd be doing without her!

Every day is different. Some moments I feel like I was never even pregnant because it was here and gone so fast. Sometimes I so look forward to the day I'm pregnant again. Other days seeing pregnant women makes me angry and jealous. I think a lot about the future, mostly about this summer. I was supposed to have three kids, not just one. The way I thought my summer was going to go is completely different. I try to think about the positives - I get to spend so much more time with Anna than I expected, especially before she starts preschool - but it still makes me sad because we were supposed to be expanding our family this summer and that's not going to happen.

I spent a lot of time last night allowing myself to remember our boys. I think about them often, especially with the perfect necklace I wear from our friends Kristen & Ryan. It's the perfect little reminder of my guys every day. I often think about them quickly and either get distracted by life/work/family, or find a distraction as not to dwell on the sadness of everything. But last night, I allowed myself a couple hours to really think about them and how much our lives have changed. I read posts and stories of other moms who have gone through similar situations. I decided to join a couple local SHARE groups to connect with other women. I shared the story of our boys and allowed myself to be sad for a while.

I keep coming back to a post I read the other day on a blog called "Scary Mommy". It discusses how women tend to have to grieve on their own when they experience and earlier miscarriage and how society doesn't know how to handle or talk about miscarriage even with it being so common. Now, obviously we are not grieving alone and this did not happen early for us, but there were several lines in her post that connected with me:

"You didn’t stay very long, but it doesn’t take long to become part of a family. And for the short time you were with us, you made us a family of four. You made us so, so happy."

"I am sorry you didn’t get to stay longer. I am sorry my body betrayed you. I am sorry that you did not get to grow. I grieve for the future that I had planned for you in that short amount of time. But I am so glad that I knew you, even for the briefest of times. And I will never forget you, little one, not ever."

"... there is no line graph where the love you feel for life inside you increases with the number of weeks it gestates. Pregnant is pregnant. Loss is loss.
Miscarriage isn’t just a loss we feel emotionally. It happens to our bodies, inside of us. We experience it physically. "
"While I have physically and emotionally healed from my miscarriage, I will always remember the life that could have been. I will never forget his due date nor the future I had imagined."

I will always think about what could have been, but I will not dwell on it. As time goes on, I will never, ever forget our two little boys. But our family will become stronger from this and we will move on to be better versions of ourselves.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Second Week - Recovery

Another week down, yet it feels like it's been forever. This week has been a bit easier, but I still think about both boys all the time. I've been playing a lot of "what-if" scenarios in my head this week: What if I knew my water broke? What if I didn't go to my CF appointment? What if I had gone in to be checked just one more time?... I don't like thinking this way because I know that there was absolutely no way to change the outcome of what happened, but sometimes I just can't help but think about it. I think these thoughts will always be in the back of my mind, and I'm looking forward to the days when they don't pop up frequently.

On a brighter note, going back to work felt so good - way better than I expected. In my last post I talked about how I was nervous about how the kids would react, or if things would be weird. Nothing weird or awkward! The kids were just so excited to have me back, I honestly bet half of them forgot why I was even gone. I did get several hugs from kids (and a few from adults) and felt so welcomed back! Everyone was extremely positive and sweet. Thursday, it felt so good to be teaching again. I remember thinking during a lesson, "This is where I'm supposed to be. This is what I'm supposed to be doing." Friday, I got to work and was full of energy. I cleaned and organized my room, rearranged desks, entered grades, sorted papers....all while I was supposed to be at a meeting - oops! Oh well, no biggie. :)

It was nice having a three day weekend, with gorgeous weather, to spend time with friends and my little family. Tim, Anna and I were able to enjoy lots of time outside this weekend which was so fun. It's tricky because I'm glad that I was able to go for a long walk with them this weekend, but it also made me a little sad because I'm not huge, pregnant and waddling like I expected to be. There are little moments like these that pop up day to day where I think to myself, "I wouldn't be able to do this if I was still pregnant." Sometimes I feel like I was never pregnant, but it's times like these where I remember that I absolutely was and those little guys were a part of our life, even for that short amount of time.

I try really hard not to dwell on the what-ifs and that "this would be different if I was still pregnant" moments because I cannot do anything to change what has happened. I don't want to surround myself with negativity and stress - that's not going to help this healing process AT ALL. I feel that both Tim and I have been dealing with everything and beginning to healing really well. We've had some wonderful talks, we've been really positive about everything and it's been great having him throughout all of this over the last couple weeks. I had no idea what to expect or how I'd handle this whole situation two weeks ago, but I really do feel that we've both come a long way and I'm proud of how we're handling everything. I'm sure there will be many tough moments ahead (their due date, this summer, milestones, holidays, etc), but I know that we are strong together and we can make it through. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Recovery

Tomorrow I return to work and I'm full of mixed emotions. I'm looking forward to getting back to "normal" as much as I can. I crave routine and I love my job. I miss my kids, but I'm honestly nervous about seeing them for the first time. I'm worried that they're going to have questions that I can't answer, or may bring up emotions that I don't want to face in front of them. It's also going to be hard seeing all of my co-workers again. I'm sure there will be lots of hugs and probably even a few tears, but I'm going to try to be strong for my boys tomorrow and Friday. I chose to go back towards the end of the week so that I can ease myself back into the working world. I'll be working two days this week, then we have a 3 day weekend, and only a 3.5 day work week next week. I think slowly getting back into full time will help my mind and body adjust to working again.

I wanted to use this post to kind of re-cap the last ten days and what my recovery was like, physically and emotionally. To be honest, there are times when it felt like I was never even pregnant because it was ripped away so quickly. Then that makes me sad because I don't ever want to forget our little guys. Then there are times when I think about how far along I would be today and wonder what I would look like, if I would feel them squirming yet, etc.

Sunday - the day of: physically, I really did feel fine on Sunday in the hospital. Baby B was born around 3-3:30am, and for the next 5+ hours my body was forced into labor to deliver their placentas that didn't come out on their own. This process was honestly the worst of it all. I was cramping and in pain for over five hours, constantly pushing to try to get them out. Once they finally came out around 8:30-9, it was the biggest feeling of relief, physically. I don't think I even processed losing the boys because I was so worried about getting the placentas out without losing too much blood or screwing up my reproductive system (neither happened - everything went very well).
The rest of the day, Tim and I had to process what had just happened, and notify our family and friends. Physically, my body felt fine. I wasn't in pain, the cramping subsided and eventually stopped pretty quickly, and I really wasn't even fatigued. Emotionally, I was numb. I don't think I really realized what happened until a few days later. It was sad and really tough to call our family and friends to tell them what happened, but I don't think I really understood it. Tim and I were able to talk through a lot of it, but I wonder how much we really grasped it then.
Sunday evening, I was discharged from the hospital around 6pm. I declined a script for pain medication from the doctor because I was feeling fine in the hospital. We stopped by Walgreens to pick up some Motrin for me in case I had any physical pain when I got home. Once we got settled at home, I noticed that I was struggling to take a deep breath without having pain. I assumed it was from missing a few treatments since being in the hospital, so I forced myself to do a treatment before crashing in my bed. Unfortunately, the albuterol did not feel as good as I expected, and the pain didn't really go away. I was way too tired to even think about it, so I curled up in my bed and passed out for the night. (I hadn't slept since 1:30am, Sunday morning)

Monday - I woke up in pain! My body hurt! And it wasn't my uterus area, either, which surprised me the most. It hurt to breathe, bend, move in certain directions, swallow food/water, etc. The area all around my rib cage, front and back was so sore! I felt like a little old lady. It hurt to stand up straight and take a deep breath, so I was hobbling around the house, breathing very quick, shallow breaths. I tried not to move too much. I realized that I was so sore from bearing down and pushing for five hours! I took Motrin every four hours, but it didn't give me much relief. Anna's sleep schedule was thrown off too, so all three of us did a lot of laying around together this day.

Tuesday - I decided I needed something stronger for this pain! I called the OB who was on-call at the hospital and asked for a script for something. She ended up prescribing me Norco and 600mg of Ibuprofen. We drove to the OB's office to pick up the script for Norco and had to bring it to a Walgreens to get filled - which took an hour because they were so busy!
We also stopped at the funeral home on this day. I thought we were going to pick up our babies, but we just met with one of the employees (my co-teacher's dad, he was amazing!) to discuss how cremation would go and what to expect.
Then, later that afternoon, Anna had her 2.5 year check-up. With all the chaos going on, I thought about rescheduling, but I also thought it would be a good distraction and a nice focus on our little girl. Tim wasn't feeling the best & was also on Benadryl, so I took Anna to her appointment. She was SUCH a big girl! She was able to use the big kid scale for the first time, and they measured her height against the wall for the first time, too. She also allowed the doctor to look at her and listen to her without having to sit on my lap! From her appointment at two years old, Anna gained over two pounds and grew 1.5 inches! The doctor and I were both very pleased with her growth, and I was so proud of how well she did at her appointment. :)
The rest of the day, I took it easy - that was the most I had to do since Sunday, and I was exhausted. I took the Norco as prescribed, but I felt it didn't make a huge difference in my pain level.

Wednesday - Tim went back to work on this day, which made me a little sad, but I know that he's the type of person that needs to keep busy. Thankfully my friend Catie had the day off already due to babysitter issues, so she and her adorable daughter, Lila, came down to hang out with Anna and I. Catie was a huge help! Her and I have been best friends for over ten years and she just gets me. She helped me with things around the house, helped with both girls while we went into school so I could get my midterms done, and even ran to the grocery store for us! It was wonderful being able to spend the day with her, and Anna loved having Lila to play with.
Physically, I was starting to feel better, I was able to breathe a bit better, but still tried to move slow and take it easy. One new symptom I noticed was that my boobs were starting to hurt in the morning, and by afternoon, my milk was coming in. This was not something I even thought about since having the boys, so it really threw me for a loop! It made me sad that my body thought I had the babies home with me and was preparing to feed them. I knew there wasn't much I could do, but figured I'd ask at my doctor appointment the following day.

Thursday - This was definitely my most emotional day. I woke up really sad. I don't know if it was because my physical pain was finally gone, so now I could start processing the emotional pain of it all; or if it was because I had my appointment with MFM and I knew it was going to be so hard to see the team again.
Thankfully my friend Kristin went with me to my appointment. I asked her a couple days in advance because I wasn't sure what I'd feel like being on the Norco and if I should drive. I also wasn't sure if emotionally I'd be able to drive after my appointment, so I was happy when she told me she'd take me. She picked me up early and we hit up the mall for a little bit before the appointment, which was a nice little distraction.
When we got to MFM, they called me back pretty quickly and as soon as the first nurse came in, I lost it. She looked so sad to see me, immediately gave me a hug and we cried together. Once I settled down, I told her the story of how everything happened Sunday and we talked it through. She told me how sad everyone was to hear about it and how they all cried together for me. It was nice to be able to talk to her though. And when she left, the nurse practitioner came in and it was the same thing all over. We hugged, we cried, I talked (a lot) and we had a great conversation. She was able to answer any questions I had, gave me a couple tips on how to help dry my milk, and was extremely comforting. She reassured me that there really was nothing that anyone could have done differently and that unfortunately things like this just happen and there's no way to stop them. After talking to the both of them, I felt better and was able to leave feeling pretty good. Kristin and I got some lunch together and I was so drained when I got home that I took a nap!
I remember thinking on this day, "Oh my goodness, how is it Thursday already?!" Then I realized how quickly Monday was coming up and how I was definitely not ready to go back to work yet. After talking with the nurses and Kristin about how I was feeling, I decided that Monday was not the day I'd go back to work. I decided to take a few more days the next week and make my first week back nice and short. That's when I texted my principal that I'd be coming back in one week, the following Thursday.

Friday - I really don't remember much of what we did on Friday. Anna spent the day with Grandma on Thursday since I had my appointment, but I chose to have her home with me on Friday since it was really my first day home alone without visitors or anything. I know that was the first day I took Benadryl to help dry up my milk, and ended up taking a long nap on the couch. Thankfully Anna also took a long nap in her room, so we were both able to catch up on our sleep.

Saturday - We chose to spend the day with Tim's mom, sister, our nephews and then Tim's Grandma. It was nice to spend time with family and to watch Anna, Cole and Liam play together for a while. They're so funny together and act like siblings, so it's always entertaining.

Sunday - We had a lazy day around the house and it was wonderful! I think we ran some errands, but my days are blurring together, so I honestly don't remember. I know that physically, at this point, I was starting to feel so much more normal. I did have a bit of cramping over the weekend, but that's to be expected. Thankfully it only lasted a day or two and hasn't stuck around.

Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday - This week has flown by! Over the weekend, I remember thinking to myself that I had no idea what I was going to do this week, but I cannot believe how quickly it's gone by. Anna and I have been able to spend a lot of time together and it's been so nice! We've cuddled a lot, read books, played, painted, went to the museum, to the park and ran some errands. It was wonderful being able to soak up her extra cuddles and spend this time with her before having to return to work.
Each day I slowly felt more normal, both physically and emotionally. My body is getting back to the way it was prior to my pregnancy little by little. My milk is definitely drying up - thanks Benadryl - and I'm no longer in any physical pain from all of this. Emotionally, I'm okay. I am able to laugh with my family and friends, look forward to seeing people and doing things and I don't feel like I'm stuck in a rut. It feels like so long ago that I was pregnant, and sometimes feels like all of this was just a terrible dream. I still have several flashbacks, daily, about holding my baby boys and being in the hospital. I know, with time, that will get better.

And now, here we are - Wednesday night. I'm up later than I wanted to be, but that's not surprising. I'm feeling nervous about returning to work tomorrow because I really don't know how the kids are going to react. I feel bad that I've had to put them through something like this at such a young age.
I can deal with adults, and I'm looking forward to laughing with everyone again, but it's the kids I'm just not sure about. I really hope they allow us to go about our day as normal as possible. I'm worried about crying in front of them. I'm worried that they'll ask me questions that I can't answer. It's just a lot of unknowns which I never like...
Here's to a good night's sleep and cooperative little children tomorrow! :-)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

One Week Later - Emotions

Wow, as we come up on a week already since losing the boys, I am overwhelmed with many emotions.

Of course I'm sad that all of this happened. It hurts that we won't see our little guys grow up together with their sister. I'm still confused as to why this happened - something we will never, ever have the answer to. I'm disappointed that after going through months and months of fertility treatments to even get pregnant, we had to say good-bye to our little boys before they were ready to be born. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted from the actual event of it all, and replaying it in my mind over and over...

But despite all of these "expected" emotions, I've also been overwhelmed with love. The love that I have for my husband and daughter has been my strength to get me through this. The way he has supported me over this week makes me so proud and so lucky to be his wife. We've both been so happy to have Anna as our little ray of sunshine to keep us happy and laughing during the difficult/emotional moments.

But what's more, is that I cannot believe how lucky we are to have such amazing people in our lives! The amount of love that has come our way over this last week has been absolutely amazing and I cannot even begin to put into words (even though I'm going to try) how thankful we are to each and every person that reached out to us.

When such a tragedy happens to a loved one, as an outsider, you don't know what to do or say that's going to make those people feel better. You don't want to say too much, or not enough, and you really don't know what you're supposed to do.
But when the tragedy happens to you, I've realized that it doesn't matter what people say or how much they say - what matters is that they are there and that you know they love you. I didn't know what I wanted people to say to me after all of this -- what could they really say that was going to make me feel better?! What helped was knowing that people cared, no matter how they showed it. Our family and friends have been amazing over this last week. The outpouring of love towards our family has been unbelievable and truly, greatly appreciated. We seriously have the best family supporting us through this situation.

And a special shout-out to my work family! Holy cow, you guys! I've worked in this building for five years, and have seen our staff come together and support each other and our families many, many times. But to be on the receiving end of that support....it's unimaginable. To see that the people you work along side every day (and some you just see in passing because we're all so busy) truly care about you and your family is amazing. Again, I cannot express how thankful we are to everyone who helped cover my classroom, fill in my plans, talk to and support my kids through this hard time, donate their sick days, their time, their energy to make getting through this difficult time just a tad bit easier - it means the world to me.

I know that my emotions are going to be all over the place for a long time coming, and I don't think it's ever something we'll completely get over, but it'll get easier with time. But for those rough, emotional, hard times, I know that we are absolutely surrounded by people that love us so much and that truly makes all the difference. So, to every single person who has reached out to our family in any way, THANK YOU are not big enough words to express how much we appreciate you and your love.

Friday, February 10, 2017

2 1/2!

Two and half, how can it be?! I feel like you've grown up so much over these last six months. It amazes me to see such an independent little person walking around our house! :)


Another big change that will be coming up will be preschool -when you turn 3- and you are SO excited!! We won't know for sure until March whether you got in (I hope so, otherwise you're going to be so disappointed), but you talk about it like you've already been. You're always telling Daddy and I things that you did at preschool. You play games there, you eat with your friends, you use the potty, watch TV, play outside, etc. You have an amazing imagination!

You've been good, but you're getting better, at entertaining yourself. You'll go into your room and just talk away and play for a while. Of course you love when we play with you, but it's nice that you can play on your own. Together, we build puzzles, play with Play-Doh, play Candy Land, Hi-ho Cherry-O, and read books. You also love to sing! It's typically more in the car, but sometimes at home too. If you hear a song you like, but don't know the words, you mumble right along pretending you do. :)

Oh Anna, most days you're so easy and so fun, but those "terrible twos" emotional moments are slowly starting to come out. Along with your yearn to be independent, comes with wanting things your way, all the time. Most days we can negotiate, but sometimes in your mind, it's your way or no way! You cry over little things and are sometimes over emotional about stuff, but we always get through it - even if it's at 3am and you're throwing a huge fit because Daddy turned the bathroom light on instead of Mommy (yes, that just happened a couple weeks ago).

You have such a mix of your Daddy and my personalities, it's cool to see them meshed together into one little person. You definitely took the independence one from both of us, you've got my OCD and need for organization (you love loading/unloading the dishwasher because everything has it's own spot), and you are definitely absorbing Daddy's creative nature which makes me so happy. You love to help Daddy work on everything (especially measuring), you love to draw and color, and you have such a creative imagination. You're also very silly, which you get from both of us!  :)

*You're fully potty trained!
*You can complete get yourself dressed/undressed which is so helpful, and usually pick out your own clothes!
*Just last week you learned how to zip your jacket!! :)
*You know at least 15-20 capital letters, know a few lowercase, a few sounds, how write an O and A (even though the A is upside-down)
*Your vocabulary is expanding by the day! You LOVE to talk!! You're also listening when we don't think you are and tend to repeat things you shouldn't - which is kind of funny!
*You will randomly start dancing at times and it's hilarious! You'll say, "look at these dance moves!"
*Daniel Tiger is still one of your favorite shows, even though Daddy & I are over it!


**I wrote this entire post before we lost your brothers, and debated deleting this section, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

You love to do everything yourself and often say things like, "I a big helper!" I cannot wait for you to become a big sister!! You already love these little babies so much, even though you have no idea the chaos they're going to bring into our lives in a few months. As soon as we found out I was pregnant, you would walk around saying that you had two babies in your belly, too. Now that I'm getting bigger, you'll stick your tummy out, pat it and say, "these are my two babies, they're growing". You also love to pat my belly and say, "Hi babies!" The other day, you were even patting my belly and singing "You Are My Sunshine" to them - it was so adorable!!! I can't wait for you to be able to see/feel their movements, so that it might help you understand a bit that there really are babies in there. You've had to try out all of their things - car seats, stroller, rock n play, any toys we find, etc. You love looking through baby clothes - whether it's sorting through your old stuff, picking clothes at the store, or just staring in the boys' closet.

We hope that some day you'll still get to be the best big sister we know you'll be. Unfortunately, it's just not going to happen as we imagined, and that's okay. You still walk around saying that you have babies in your belly, and sometimes ask where our babies are, and I have to tell you that they're gone. You definitely don't understand what death means or why they're all of a sudden gone, but you've accepted this last tragic week very well.

I am SO proud of the little person you are growing up to be. I love how you love your family and friends; I love how excited you get over the little things; I love that you have a sense of humor and love to laugh with Daddy and I; I love your sweet, caring nature; I love how polite and well-behaved you are; and I love that you are our daughter. You are the perfect fit for Daddy and I and we could not love you more, little Peanut. :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

To Our Beautiful Baby Boys

Baby boys,
You left us too soon. I'm so..... I don't even have the right words to describe how I'm feeling - hurt, sad, confused, disappointed...I could go on and on.

You were 19 weeks and 4 days along, which was about 1/2 way for a twin pregnancy. Your little bodies were perfectly proportioned. You both had distinct and different facial features, meaning you were definitely fraternal. Your fingers, toes, and ears were just perfect. But your lungs were not developed and there was no way you could survive life outside of my womb. Baby A's face was narrower, and his nose was long and skinny. Even though on the ultrasound he looked just like Anna did on one of her ultrasounds, as soon as I saw Baby B's face, he looked just like Anna does now. He had a round little face, with a smaller little button nose just like his sister. Daddy and I were happy that we were able to hold you both for a little while before having to say goodbye. Anna was even able to see you, too.

According to all the doctors and nurses that helped us on Sunday, there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently and things like this "just happen". It definitely doesn't help not having an exact reason, but one of the first things the doctor told me was, "People feel like everything happens for a reason. This does not. There is absolutely no reason that this happened." As much as that sucked to hear, she was right. My body went into "silent preterm labor" meaning I didn't feel it and I didn't know, and I had an incompetent cervix, meaning it opened on it's own, well before it should have. There was nothing anyone could have done differently to save these precious little boys.

Even still, I feel like I've failed. It was my responsibility to grow those babies and keep them in my uterus until they were fully mature. I know that I didn't do anything wrong, but my body still failed. I failed as their mother, and I failed Tim as his wife. I know that these are feelings that I will have to work through on my own time, but right now, they're raw and real.

I'm constantly having flashbacks to my sweet little Baby A being born at home, and knowing that he was gone, but hanging on to any little hope that Baby B would be okay. Deep down, I think I knew it was over, but I wasn't giving up. About an hour after arriving at the hospital, Baby B came out peacefully and was laid on my chest, but he was already gone.

We decided to get your footprints done which are just as precious as ever and are the perfect little way to remember your sweet little frames. We're also having you cremated which is something we never thought we'd have to go through. But you were our babies, even if you were just 8 1/2 inches. You were alive for 19 weeks and I want to remember you always.It's going to be tough moving on from something like this, but we're taking it one day at a time. Anna has been a wonderful distraction for Daddy and I.

We will always remember our little "Butter & Jelly"
Love, Mommy

18 & 19 Weeks

**I debated whether or not to share this post, since I never quite finished it, but I'm going to publish it so I have it for the memories.

January 24 - 18 Weeks today!
The title of the week on my app this morning was "The Smooth Second" -- I beg to differ! This last week has really thrown me off and I cannot wait to be feeling the "smooth" second trimester feelings. Although with twins, I feel like that may have been from about week 12-14, haha!

Yesterday, I woke up with the chills and took some Tylenol every six hours to get through work. When I got home (after a professional development meeting, of course - can't miss out on those hours!) was shaking & felt terrible. I took my temperature with Anna's little ear thermometer and it was 99.8*F. I don't know if that exactly counts as a fever, but I'd say it is based on the way I'm feeling. As soon as the Tylenol wears off, I'm shivering and shaking with a headache until I take it and it kicks in....then of course, I start sweating...

I decided to stay home from work today so I could do extra treatments, although I'm not noticing much difference in my lungs; rest; stay hydrated and just relax. I've had a stressful week with the increasing pressure and bleeding, and now fevers. I'm over it! Thankfully I'm not vomiting, I'm able to keep food and water down just fine, not noticing any respiratory issues. Just headaches, chills/sweats.

I called MFM this morning to let them know about the fevers and they told me I'm allowed to take 2 extra strength Tylenol every six hours, so that's what I've been doing. I also just got off the phone with my CF doctor, who I was supposed to go see tomorrow for my three-month follow-up appointment. She said she doesn't want me driving that far by myself, so if I could get someone to come with me she'd still like to see me. If not, then she's okay with post-poning the visit unless I seem to get worse. She did tell me to have someone local see me and swab me for the flu, just in case. She said it may just be a viral thing that has to run it's coarse, but she wants me to get checked anyway. So as soon as I'm done with my treatments, I'm going to head to Express Care in town to see what they have to say.

January 25 - 18w, 1d

Good news: I don't have the flu! And my fevers are gone!!
I was able to go to my CF clinic appointment today which went pretty well. My lung function is down a tad, but that's to be expected with two growing little guys in there and a little extra mucus production. Lung-wise, I've been feeling great lately, so I'm not worried about the small decrease. I think once I start my Cayston back up in a week or two, it'll help get rid of some of the excess mucus I have going on.
My weight is still hanging at 138lbs which my CF doctor is complete fine with. I told her that I was worried I wasn't gaining enough weight with this pregnancy (only 4lbs so far) and she was worried one bit. She reminded me that I started out this pregnancy much higher than I did when I was pregnant with Anna, so that gives me a little "reserves" to use and means I don't have to gain as much as quickly this time. She thinks the further along I get, I'll eventually start putting on more weight, but she told me not to stress about it. I was able to talk to her and the dietitian today to get some more meal/snack ideas. They definitely don't want me cutting carbs because I need the nutrients and calories, but I just have to watch my sugars. My CF doctor is a bit more lax on what my fasting and two-hour numbers should be, which makes me feel better because I'd been having a hard time keeping them so low.

I feel like I'm finally starting to get better. I've had barely any fever-like symptoms today, only taken 3 Tylenol pills all day, although no naps, so I'm exhausted. I'm very happy that tomorrow is Friday so I can rest this weekend.

January 28 - 18w, 3d
I made it through work yesterday feeling pretty good. I did sit a lot which helps. Again, I'm just so surprised at how quickly I get worn out and tired. This last week has really put into perspective for me how much different and harder growing two humans is than one. I really had no clue!
I'm still having lingering headaches and some leaking/discharge, but I have a feeling those aren't going to go away any time soon. Oh the glamours of pregnancy... :)

I'm so anxious to start feeling the boys move!! Sometimes I can tell when they shift or are maybe sitting close to each other because I'll feel a lot of pressure in a specific area, but I still haven't felt any little flutters or jabs. I also can't wait for Anna to be able to feel them, too. She often gently pats my belly and says "Hi babies". This morning she laid in bed, patting my belly and singing "You Are My Sunshine" to them - it was adorable!!

January 30 - 18w, 5d
I can finally say I'm feeling better! I haven't had a big headache all day, I'm not super exhausted or in a lot of pain - yay!!! Even though I was feeling a lot better at work today, I still reminded myself to take it easy and slow. I sat when I could, walked slow when I had to walk and felt pretty good throughout the day. The boys still seem to be sitting fairly low and often put pressure on my lower uterus, but that's something I'm getting used to.

February 1 - 19 weeks
I think I fully slept through the night last night! I went to bed kind of early, and I don't remember rolling around uncomfortable or switching positions a million times. I actually woke up feeling rested this morning! Woo hoo!!

We're 19 weeks along today and you should be measuring about 6 inches long, each. You could be beginning to get little hairs on your head, your arms and legs are just about proportional to your body now, and your coordination is developing to control your arms and legs better.

I'm so excited for Monday's appointment to get your measurements for the first time. I'm also hoping we'll get lots of cute pictures and be able to see both of your faces. I can't wait to see every little inch of your bodies and make sure you're both healthy and developing as you should be.